x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Emirati designers to collaborate with Campanas

Two Emirati designers will collaborate with the Campana brothers on an Abu Dhabi Art installation.

Early this month, two young Emirati designers, Khalid Shafar and Noura al Mehairi, had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend a week at the Campanas' Sao Paulo base, Estudio Campana.

Staying in a hotel six blocks from the studio, in the heart of Brazil's financial capital, the Emiratis were exposed to many facets of Sao Paulo life.

"I don't think it could be more different here than in Abu Dhabi," laughs Humberto Campana. "We are so loud in our daily life; there is a lot of noise and colour. So our assistants created a whole itinerary for them. They went round the old districts downtown and explored the popular markets, where we've found so many ideas in the low-tech building materials you see at the hardware shops - coil of rope, plastic containers - and they sampled all the local food and drink."

Because time was so short, the Campanas decided that Shafar and al Mehairi should work with cardboard, just about the humblest of materials, but no less versatile for that. "We specifically asked them to make a dialogue between this material and their own culture," explains Humberto of the HSBC-sponsored cultural exchange.

One of the results is a series of extremely beautiful, large cardboard tiles, perforated with traditional Islamic patterns. These will become building blocks for the installation in Abu Dhabi.

"For us, this is a good fusion between our two universes," Humberto continues, "and a new way to research modernity. We all need to face the future with better ethics and that includes how we make things and what we make them in. We need to compromise with the planet."

The results of the Emirati designers' immersion in the Campanas' world will be seen during Abu Dhabi Art from November 4-7, where they will be creating an on-site installation with the brothers.

While those results remain to be seen, who better to bring the seeds of design to the UAE than practitioners who have succeeded through a sensitivity to instinct and tradition, brought to life through a love of craftsmanship. Like Brazil, this country may not yet have a thriving design culture, but there is no shortage of instinct, and there is tradition and craftsmanship in abundance.